Tolton, Augustine

Tolton, Augustine

(1854–97) Catholic priest; born in Ralls County, Mo. The first Catholic priest whose parents were both African-Americans, he escaped from slavery with family members at age seven. He overcame poverty and frequent rejections to obtain backing and permission to study for the priesthood in Rome, where he was ordained (1886). He returned to work as a struggling pastor among poor black Catholics in Illinois.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.